Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: presidencia.gov.mx

By THE PULSE NEWS MEXICO STAFF

Despite a still-broadening covid-19 pandemic and a spiraling financial crisis, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) used his second annual State of the Nation Address (Informe de Gobierno) on Tuesday, Sept. 1, as a bully pulpit to lavish praise on himself and his administration.

“Mexico has the best government during its worst moment,” he said in the 45-minute address offered in the National Palace patio to a reduced audience of less than 100 attendees (in compliance with government-recommended social distancing practices to help cull the spread of the novel coronavirus).

The fight against the covid-19 disease — which, as of Monday, Aug. 31, had infected nearly 600,000 Mexicans and killed more than 64,000, according to government figures (believed to be gravely underestimated) — was one of the key topics in AMLO’s address.

The president made specific reference to the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca vaccine, which is now being produced in Mexico and Argentina, through a donation from the Carlos Slim Foundation, to be distributed throughout the region.

AMLO said that thanks to that effort, Mexicans will be among the first nations in the world to have access to the potentially lifesaving vaccine, now in late clinical trials.

And while the fight to contain the spread of covid is a national priority, the president said that the government has not cut back on social programs for the country’s most impoverished communities.

He noted that in the first eight months of 2020, the government has spent 115 billion pesos to help 9 million underprivileged Mexicans, which he called an investment in the future of both the nation and its youth.

AMLO likewise spoke about his government’s war on corruption, promising that his administration will not be remembered for its graft and financial fraud.

Raising the standard of living of Mexico’s poor and eradicating government corruption have long been flagships of the president’s political goals, and he said in the address that, as he enters his 22nd month in office (of a six-year term), he and his administration have already successfully fulfilled 95 of his 100 campaign promises, especially related to these two topics.

“The other five (campaign promises) will soon be fulfilled or are in the process of being fulfilled,” he said.

AMLO acknowledged that the country has been severely hit by a financial contraction resulting from the pandemic, but assured his audience that “the worst is now over,” and economic recovery will soon take hold.

He also touted his three pet megaprojects, the construction of a new Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) oil refinery in Dos Bocas, Tabasco (his home state), the expansion of a military airport to become the country’s new main commercial airport, and the extension and commercial exploitation of the Tren Maya tourist train linking the south of the country, assuring that they would all help to jumpstart the sputtering national economy.

All three projects have been controversial and their viability has been strongly contested by AMLO’s detractors, but AMLO has refused to budge on their progress.

Finally, AMLO spoke about crime, which, he said has, for the most part, diminished under his watch, although murders (more than 70,000 since he took office) and extortions have increased.

…Sept. 1, 2020

 

 

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